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Perspectives on Development


Participating in an IVP volunteer project will often bring you face to face with the immense inequalities that exist between so-called ‘developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’ or ‘developing’ countries. It is also likely to raise questions and debate on what development is, what its goals are and the best ways in which the goals can be achieved.

The terms developed/underdeveloped/developing, North/South, First World/Third World … are contemporary categories for understanding the world. The terms provide a certain snapshot of the state of the world, at least in terms of the distribution of wealth globally. However, while we live in a starkly divided world, the divisions between rich and poor are found within each country.

This chapter briefly examines the concept of development and sets out some of the important development issues that have been the focus of global campaigns over the last number of years. The campaigns acknowledge that these issues very much interconnect developed and developing countries. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals provide an overall framework for the examination provided.

The concept of development
‘Development’ denotes growth, maturation, advancement. When considered in terms of the social or individual ‘development’ is understood to be about movement or change from a situation of lack and limitation to one of sufficiency and capability. This means that development is a process of transition. However, the fact that economic and social development are discussed in the context of ‘developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’ countries means that development is also commonly considered to have an end-point and that there is an ideal-state for human society, represented in and by ‘developed’ countries.

The dominant political, economic, cultural and other explanations of development usually start with an examination of how ‘developed’ countries came to achieve their situation of sufficiency, capability and advancement in industrialisation, science, knowledge and organisation. These explanations propose conditions under which development prospers, and support the formulation of models that can be applied in ‘underdeveloped’ countries. In these dominant theories the goal of development is assumed to be the reproduction of the achievements and ideal-states found in ‘developed’ countries.

Alternative theories of development question and critique any or all of these dominant explanations and the models of development that are based on them. The most radical alternative theories of development challenge the proposition that the goal of development is the reproduction of the economic and social situations of ‘developed’ countries.

All ideas on the goals of and models for development also carry with them ideas about the type of contributions that governments, societies and individuals need to make, and especially about where, when and how external contributions should be made.

In the following sections, we will look at development theories, the UN Millenium Development Goals, and some issues for development.

References and further research:

Bolan, S., 2007, “Uganda launches education campaign for war-affected children” – http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/uganda_38329.html accessed 13 Mar 2007
Human Rights Watch, 2006, “Lessons in Terror Attacks on Education in Afghanistan”, July 2006, Vol. 18, Number 6(c) – http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/afghanistan0706/index.htm accessed 14 Mar 2007
International Labour Organisation, “International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: IPEC” www.ilo.org/childlabour
Larson, Ann, “The Social Epidemiology of Africa’s Aids Epidemic,” African Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 354. (1990): pp. 5-25
Treichler, Paula A., “AIDS, Africa, and Cultural Theory,” Transition, No. 51, (1991): pp. 86-103
United Nations Capital Development Fund (2007) . About UNCDF. Retrieved 7 March 2007 from http://www.uncdf.org/english/about_uncdf/index.php
United Nations Capital Development Fund (2007) . About UNCDF: Local Development Retrieved March 7, 2007, from http://www.uncdf.org/english/local_development/index.php
UNAIDS/WHO AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2006, http://www.unaids.org/en/HIV_data/epi2006/default.asp accessed 1 March 2007
UNICEF Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse – Child Labour http://www.unicef.org/protection/index_childlabour.html
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/pdf/crc.pdf, http://www.unicef.org/girlseducation/index_bigpicture.html
UN High Commission for Refugees – “Educating Refugees around the world” -http://www.unhcr.org/partners/PARTNERS/3fcb52bf1.pdf
UN Millennium Development Goals, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/index.html accessed 28 May 2007
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006,
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2006/MDGReport2006.pdf accessed 28 May 2007
Make Poverty History Policy Platform, http://www.makepovertyhistory.com.au/downloads/MPH_policy_250207.pdf accessed 28 May 2007